Teen Pink E-Rickshaw driver from Indian village wins King’s award

Teen Pink E-Rickshaw driver from Indian village wins King’s award

The Indian government’s Pink E-Rickshaw Scheme is an innovative drive to provide rickshaws that bring access to safe transport for female passengers, driven by female drivers for whom it is a reliable means of employment.

Now, Arti – one such trailblazing Pink E-Rickshaw driver – met King Charles at a Buckingham Palace reception in London after winning the prestigious Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award for her determined efforts to drive change. The 19-year-old young mother was recognised for breaking the mould to become one of the first Pink E-Rickshaw drivers in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh in northern India, inspiring other young girls in her village to believe that they too can forge their own path.

Arti said: "I would like to express my gratitude to Project Lehar, the Prince's Trust International, the Bahraich district administration, for their immense support and for connecting me to this initiative.

“Through them, I have discovered a new sense of independence — a life where I can rely on myself. I take pride in being able to inspire other girls who face similar challenges. This newfound independence has allowed me to see the world in a different light. Now, I am able to fulfil not only my dreams but also those of my daughter."

Arti’s parents are daily wage labourers, so their income is both low and insecure. With her family struggling to make ends meet, Arti was married during her 10th grade and had to leave school. But the marriage didn’t last, and she soon returned to her family home with her baby daughter. With few earning options in and around her village, especially for a single mother, Arti focused mainly on domestic work at home. Then she joined Project Lehar and began to believe in a better future for herself and her daughter. With quiet determination, she set about making it happen.

Project Lehar is run by the Aga Khan Foundation with support from Prince’s Trust International – now King’s Trust International. It offers vocational training, entrepreneurship and life skills courses for girls and young women from low-income backgrounds in Uttar Pradesh and the neighbouring state of Bihar. It also supports girls who left school early to complete their education.

In July 2023, Project Lehar introduced Arti to the Pink Rickshaw scheme – an idea that aims to kill two birds with one stone, increasing employment opportunities for vulnerable women – especially widows and single mothers like Arti – while also improving women’s access to safe transport, thereby increasing their mobility and independence.


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British human rights barrister Amal Clooney said: “I am honoured that the Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award is able to spotlight and celebrate extraordinary young women. This year’s winner, Arti, is an inspirational example of someone whose trailblazing work in a typically male arena makes women in her community safer.

“Arti is determined to create a world where her daughter will not face the obstacles that she has faced, and she is already making a difference through her example.”

The Prince’s Trust International, becoming King’s Trust International, has been supporting young people worldwide since 2015. It was founded by the King to tackle the global crisis in youth unemployment, building on almost five decades of experience in the UK. The Women’s Empowerment Award was sponsored by Prince’s Trust Enterprise Ambassador Charlotte Tilbury MBE.

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